We at HorrorTalk are extremely pleased to interview Ken Foree. In 1978, Ken thrilled audiences worldwide with his role of Peter Washington in George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Since then Ken has played a wide range of dramatic roles in both Television and Movies.
Peter West: Ken, thanks for agreeing to the interview. As my first question, and this is what anybody that first meets you must think as well, you look in as good shape as when you played Peter Washington! How do you do it?
Ken Foree: I lift, I do cardio, basically because it makes me feel good. Clean living helps a bit too!
PW: What did you do before acting?
KF: Community service. I was a counselor for street academy programs in New York City.
PW: What was your education as an actor?
KF: I studied with one of Lee Strasberg’s teachers who branched off and opened his own gallery called ‘The Performance Gallery’ in New York. His name is Michael Schulman. I studied with him.
PW: Do you have people that served as inspirations in you choosing acting as a profession?
KF: Lawrence Olivier in “Othello." The movie left a big impression as a child when I saw it!
PW: You were cast as the lead character in what was your second movie role. How did you get the part?
KF: Just luck. I had opened a photo studio and it had just been robbed. A friend referred me for the role and the rest is history.
PW: When Dawn of the Dead was being filmed, did you have any idea how powerful and controversial the movie would be? That people would still be talking about it nearly thirty years later?
KF: No conception that would happen. I thought it was a little winter job I would finish, and that would be it!
PW: I first saw Dawn of the Dead unrated at a sneak preview before the movie’s theatrical 'R' rated release. The first moments of the film in the housing project, culminating with you shooting the racist Wooley, provoked an audience reaction I’ve never seen before or since. Did you ever experience personally the audience’s reaction to the movie then?
KF: Yes I did, many times. I think a lot of people got satisfaction with me blowing that guy away!
PW: You were the only guy that lived in the movie. Would it have been more fun to have been eaten, or was it better to be the “one guy” that escaped?
KF: It’s always best to live. Survival is the key word!
PW: Do you have pleasant memories of filming Dawn of the Dead that you care to share with us?
KF: I enjoyed Pittsburgh. I got to spend some time with Franco Harris during filming. Some good times there!
PW: Anchor Bay is releasing the 'Ultimate Edition' of Dawn of the Dead next month. Are you participating in the production of it? If so what can we look forward to?
KF: I did an interview in Pasadena for The Dead Will Walk Documentary. I also did a commentary with Scott Reiniger, David Emge and Gaylen Ross.
PW: As a director, how was George A. Romero to work for?
KF: Very good to work with! It was a group collaboration to make the movie work when necessary, stuck with the script, occasionally improvising.
PW: Do you have any regrets in making Dawn of the Dead?
KF: Hell no, never! Heck, the New York Times, they had problems. Not me!
PW: Did Dawn of the Dead open any doors for you?
KF: It’s done more for me in the later years, than in it initially. It did, however, make me an international star with name recognition.
PW: Were you given an opportunity for a role in Dawn of the Dead?
KF: No, the script really didn’t call for anybody coming back.
PW: What was your favorite scene in Dawn of the Dead?
KF: The scene in the Gun Shop, strapping on the big guns. Lot’s of fun!
PW: You’ve played a variety of dramatic roles. Which ones have been your favorite?
KF: One role in "Hunter" was nominated for an Emmy. I’ve had many people compliment me on that role. “Guilty” was the episode.
PW: What directors have been your favorites to work with?
KF: John Badham, Jeff Burr, Corey Allen, Richard Donner, and Dick Sarafian are just a few that come to mind. There are many more.
PW: Are there any directors that have not been enjoyable?
KF: I’ll never tell. Wait for the book!
PW: Have you ever turned down a role and wished you had taken it?
KF: Yes, an “X-Files” role, as a guy who was executed and came back from the dead. I did not want to play anymore prisoners. The role got a nomination somewhere and I could have smoked it.
PW: Has there ever been a role you wished you had passed on?
KF: Yes there are a few that I’d like, or hope would be burned.
PW: One of my favorite roles of yours is Leroy 'Bubba' Brown in From Beyond. I’ve heard that MGM is releasing it on DVD later this year. Are you going to be participating in the production?
KF: I’m glad to hear it. I have not been contacted by them. I’m interested in listening if they would like me to participate!
PW: You had a steamy scene with horror movie hottie Barbara Crampton in From Beyond. How was she to work with?
KF: Very lovely. She’s a very lovely lady. (A big grin came to Ken’s face as he is saying this.)
PW: I see you’ve had a role on "General Hospital." How was it was working on a soap opera?
KF: Challenging! I should have worked on a soap when I was 20, not older.
PW: Are there any acting projects you have recently worked on that you would like to discuss?
KF: Devils Due at Midnight. Not sure of when it’s going to be released. The sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, this has been a busy year!
PW: How have your experiences been attending conventions such as HorrorFind Weekend?
KF: Great times! I just love meeting with everybody. I meet people that know me from movies twenty years ago and young fans, like the young girl we met earlier that recognized me from “Kenan & Kel.”
PW: What are your favorite charities?
KF: Any charity that supports mentally or physically handicapped children.
PW: If you had to write one word to summarize your career, what would it be?
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